Burnley Community Grocery: Thousands turning to affordable food hub to keep families fed

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It's been almost one year since the Burnley Community Grocery opened its doors to the public.

At a time of ever-increasing financial uncertainty, the vital support it has already provided to struggling families in and around the borough has been nothing short of life-saving.

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"It's gone so quick," said Daniella, the grocery's North West regional manager. "And it feels like we've been here for such a long time. We've got over 2,200 members now, and we're getting new members every single day.

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Say 'hello' to the Burnley Community Grocery teamSay 'hello' to the Burnley Community Grocery team
Say 'hello' to the Burnley Community Grocery team

We've had seven new ones join just today. And it's not just each individual who is able to use the grocery, the whole household or family can."

An initiative of national charity The Message Trust, the store, which is based in Valley Community Centre, Valley Street, is run in partnership with Life Church.

Its primary aim is to help tackle food poverty in the area by providing affordable food for members, while also giving them access to various support networks.

By signing up at the grocery for a £5 annual fee, members can do a food shop comprising 12 items for only £4 per visit – saving on average £25 - £30 each shop.

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The Burnley Community Grocery is based at Valley Community Centre in Valley Street.The Burnley Community Grocery is based at Valley Community Centre in Valley Street.
The Burnley Community Grocery is based at Valley Community Centre in Valley Street.

Daniella describes it as "bridging the gap between food banks and supermarkets".

"We're that next step on really. It's to help people come off that food bank dependency; to shop with us a little bit, so they can get that independence. They can also choose their own food, whereas they can't with food banks.

That's not to say food banks aren't still so important, and needed, because they are. But the grocery is to help people come off that dependency, if they can, and then eventually move on to supermarkets."

The grocery relies heavily on donations from local suppliers, supermarkets, and members of the public.

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"We're doing OK at the minute [for donations]," said Daniella, who is based at the Burnley store. "It's peaks and troughs really. There are certain times when we get lots of donations, like Christmas was great, and then it can die off a little. But we're doing quite well. We always need more donations though because we're just so busy. We can get a fantastic donation that we fill the shelves with, and that could honestly last two days, and it would all be gone.

"In particular, we need things like tinned meats, tinned soups, tinned veg, tea, coffee, sugar, long-life milk. They all go incredibly quickly.

"At the minute, as well, we'd really love Easter eggs, so that we can give a free one to every child that comes into the grocery."

At the recent Burnley Above and Beyond Awards, Burnley Community Grocery scooped the Food Champion accolade for delivering a valuable service in time of need.

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Daniella said: "It was amazing! It was a complete surprise when I got the email. Just to be invited, and to be in that room with all those amazing people, who help out in the community all day every day; it was such an honour.

"I just wish the whole team could have been there with us. We have 40 volunteers helping out at the grocery, and they are just incredible. Without them, there would be no community grocery."

Burnley Community Grocery is open Monday to Friday, from 9-30am – 4-30pm.

More details can be found at www.communitygrocery.org.uk/burnley.

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